To a city of life, love, and color- a poignant adios. Madrid, I’m so sad to leave you and all of your wonders. You’ve been so good to me. But, I’ll surely see you again soon.
I feel like I’ve had an alter-ego for nine months and I am finally having to let her go. My experience here doesn’t feel real. The time went by like time should at a perfect pace, but now I can’t help but ask where it went. It’s strange because no one really knows what my time here was. What my experience really was. Sure, in logistics, it’s obvious. Gap year in Spain, work in foster home, Spanish food, abroad friends, travel, travel, travel. But I cannot even wrap my head around how much this experience has meant to me- how much it has made me a real person.
What does that even mean? To be a real person. Well, the pillars of Spanish culture have taught me how to accept, conquer hardships, and just live my life with ease. To me, that’s just it. The first pillar is to take things slow. The people here enjoy the journey just as much as the destination. Believe it or not, they don’t even think to bring you a check after a meal until you ask. From sitting around those terrace tables with my beautiful friends for hours after dinner, I’ve learned how to relax. I’ve learned how to enjoy the moment, love the past, and have passionate hope and excitement for the future. That is aprovechando. Another pillar of Spanish culture is to eat everything on your plate. And why wouldn’t you? Spanish food is riquísimo. Eating everything on my plate now means that I cannot take anything for granted. I am beyond lucky to have what I have. I’ve worked for nine months with girls who have horror stories from their childhoods, and they are much stronger than me even at only seven or eleven years old. They might be locas at times, but they’re learning every day that they cannot take anything they’re given for granted. Even if it’s that puré that no one really likes, we still have to eat it all. It’s not fair for us to take advantage of our beautiful world and the people in it. If we do, we won’t be able to appreciate the beauty of each experience to its fullest. The last pillar that has been so incredibly evident to me in my time here is the importance of family. Spanish families are big, mushy pits of love and besitos. Of course, I didn’t have my biological family by my side here in Madrid. But really, a family is just a network of people who are there to love and support you- people who you care about. So, I’ve learned in my time here that you can make family anywhere. From flat mates, to random Spaniards on ski trips, to adopted kind-of host moms, to foster children- anyone can be your family. You might even find someone who’s literally you but a few years older and like 20°C cooler (@Lauren). Now, I have a family who knows me so much differently than my blood relatives because of a completely different setting. A family that I can love with my whole heart Spanish style because of the experiences we’ve shared in the beautiful Madrid. Gracias Dios for Spanish culture that so educated me on living life.
Now that the time is up and I’ll be on a flight tomorrow at 12:45 Central European time, I have to take my own advice and hold back the sadness (also I have to pack too… oops). Back to chickenwing land and eventually, real school..ugh. Adios to a city I cannot wait to come back to and friends- family that I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to tell my kids about all my cool Euro experiences when I’m an old lame mom…..(sorry mom- I’m kidding.. moms aren’t lame 😉
My heart belongs to you more than I ever thought it would, Madrid. Hasta prontito.